Aldi's 'Aisle of Shame,' Explained

Aldi's 'Aisle of Shame' has become an internet sensation.
Aldi's 'Aisle of Shame' has become an internet sensation. / Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Over the past several years, discount grocery retailer Aldi has built up a loyal shopper base that rivals those of Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. In addition to its low prices and quarter premium for shopping carts, it’s also attracted attention for what Aldi aficionados have dubbed its ‘Aisle of Shame.’ What’s Aldi’s Aisle of Shame? For Aldi fans, it’s the most exciting part of the store—one they can spend hours discussing.

The Aisle of Shame is a nickname for Aldi’s middle aisle, which in most stores in brimming with specials on food items as well as non-food products and curios that are sometimes curated by season or theme. According to Atlas Obscura, Aldi shoppers might find anything from a churro maker to apple cinnamon-flavored dog biscuits. The thrill, if such a feeling can be had in a grocery store, is in navigating the Aisle of Shame and being surprised by what you can find.

Aldi enthusiast Stefani Fleming created both the Aisle of Shame website and its Facebook group, which boasts over 1 million members and traffics in AOS finds, discussions, and insider vernacular. (Members are even said to emit a “caw-caw” noise in the Aisle, to see if fellow AOS lovers are in the vicinity.)

AOS devotees are diligent and persistent in their searches. When news of a new product (like an edible advent calendar or lawn chair) circulates, shoppers go on the hunt. The most popular viral finds of 2021 were some Aldi decorative gnomes; a black romper; a “luxury” pet sofa; a fall flannel shirt candle; and a patio dining table. The search—and ensuing bragging rights—have made the aisle a kind of social media scavenger hunt.

Unfortunately, not every Aldi is equipped with an Aisle of Shame. Considering the free publicity, Aldi might want to remedy that.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]